Cold Springs couldn’t ask for much more.
In a season that began all the way back in November, the Lady Eagles now have just one game left to play.
And it’s a big one — No. 1 Cold Springs (31-2) vs. No. 2 Mars Hill Bible (25-5) for the Class 2A state championship.
The bout, which is slated for Friday at 9 a.m. inside Birmingham’s Legacy Arena, will showcase the classification’s top-ranked teams in what could be a Herculean battle.
For Tammy West, the journey in arriving at this moment has been one of the most memorable in her storied career.
“It’s been a lot of fun because of these kids and their willingness to learn and do whatever it takes for the team,” the longtime coach said. “This group and their maturity and composure … they just do whatever it takes to win.”
Standing between the Lady Eagles and their fifth state title are the formidable Lady Panthers.
Mars Hill Bible defeated Holly Pond (60-34) and No. 5 Sulligent (48-36) en route to winning the Northwest Regional Tournament and securing a spot in the Final Four. On Monday, coach Flori Sweatt’s squad easily beat No. 6 Geneva County (70-50) to set up Friday’s matchup.
Seventh-grader Belle Hill, who stands 5-foot-11, accumulated 19 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks in the state semifinal, following up a fine regional showing in which she registered 45 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks en route to claiming MVP accolades.
Senior Emma Kate Wright, who netted 17 points against Sulligent and 22 against Geneva County, is also a playmaker.
“Obviously, the seventh-grader is fantastic,” West said of Hill, who was recently offered by Alabama. “I know her basketball IQ is extremely high for her age being a coach’s daughter. They also have several players around her who are very good. They are a really well-coached team. It’s two good teams that are going to play and, hopefully, we’ll come out on top.”
Regardless of the outcome, it’s already been a banner season for the Lady Eagles.
After collecting just 10 victories in 2021-22, Cold Springs bounced back with authority, achieving and maintaining the No. 1 ranking, winning both the Area 11 and Central Regional Tournament and advancing to the Final Four.
With just 32 minutes left in this campaign, it’s no wonder West is soaking up every second.
“It’s so special to have these moments,” she said. “To watch these kids and see how hard they work … I want them to experience this Friday as a win, because there’s going to be a winner and there’s going to be a loser. But, at the same time, there’s not. They’re champions already based on what they’ve done.
“They’re so eager to please and so humble. It’s just such a good group that you want them to have success.”